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  • - Thank you, sir. - Alright. See you later, thanks.

  • Hi, my name is Tony

  • and this is Every Frame a Painting.

  • Today's topic is the oner, AKA a long take.

  • This is probably the most jerked-off-to type of shot in filmmaking.

  • But basically, all it means

  • is doing an entire scene in a single, unbroken shot.

  • And let's face it, it's pretty awesome.

  • We all have our favorites.

  • There's six dozen lists on the internet about this.

  • But we tend to notice the ones that draw attention to themselves.

  • So let's skip all of these guys

  • and go to one filmmaker who does oners all the time,

  • except his goal is to remain invisible.

  • This dude.

  • Truthfully, Spielberg's takes aren't even that long.

  • He tends to keep them less than 3 minutes.

  • In fact, he really likes that one minute to two-minute zone,

  • which is long enough to cover an entire scene,

  • but short enough to keep the pace brisk.

  • And while other directors seem to have

  • a dominant formal technique to their long takes

  • for instance, Wes Anderson likes to move laterally,

  • the only thing that really defines a Spielberg oner

  • is that it's supposed to be invisible.

  • So maybe I'm full of shit for even saying it exists.

  • Now, I'm gonna cut these shots down for this video,

  • but if you want to see the full scenes,

  • I've put them all in two separate videos linked below.

  • First off, a shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  • This is a single unbroken, 90-second take.

  • The great thing about it is that it's basically four different shots in one:

  • there's a push-in, two matching singles, and an insert.

  • So Spielberg combines all four into a single moving master.

  • It's really simple and elegant,

  • and it probably saved a bunch of time on set.

  • Also, it really works for the scene,

  • because there's suspense in the drinking contest.

  • And no matter how many times I watch it,

  • I still forget the exact timing,

  • so it's always funny when this happens.

  • Next up is a shot from Minority Report.

  • This time, they're on a steadicam.

  • But notice how the camera never moves unmotivated.

  • It's always following a motion or an action.

  • Hold that, please.

  • The pacing is fantastic,

  • you really get the sense that the scene is unfolding in front of you,

  • rather than a cameraman hitting his marks.

  • You're in a lot of trouble, John.

  • The blocking of the actors is really fluid

  • and the shot goes from favoring one character...

  • ...to favoring another.

  • Seems I've found a flaw.

  • Flashing back in time, this is Jaws.

  • The great thing about this one is how restrained it is.

  • The cameraman barely moves.

  • All of the movement is in the blocking of the actors

  • and specially, the really smart choice of location.

  • By shooting on a real ferry,

  • Spielberg can use the background action to keep the pace snappy.

  • One of the reasons I forgot how long this shot is

  • is because the background keeps shifting

  • and you're always looking at something new.

  • You yell "shark",

  • we've got a panic on our hands on the 4th of July.

  • Next up, Saving Private Ryan.

  • One of the hallmarks of a Spielberg oner

  • is that he tends to do almost all of his special FX or his vis FX in the master.

  • And this one's a doozy.

  • Explosions, rubble, dust, smoke, gunfire, squibs, and you know...

  • A tank.

  • Good shit.

  • Now, I do want to emphasize,

  • Spielberg did not invent this type of shot.

  • In fact, it used to be a very common choice.

  • How about you, handsome?

  • Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

  • In the 40s and 50s and 60s,

  • studio directors frequently employed

  • a moderate-length oner to move the story along.

  • How do you like this? I'm running outta alibis.

  • But really, beginning with Rope and Touch of Evil,

  • the oner became a calling card for directors.

  • Audiences noticed it,

  • film critics and students got raging hard-ons for it,

  • and for the last 50 years, it's been a game of one-upmanship.

  • Yours is 3 minutes? Well mine's 17.

  • Hitchcock did a movie seemingly in one take?

  • Well we did it actually in one.

  • Now, I'm not saying that these long takes are bad.

  • Most of them are fun as shit.

  • All of them are a little awe-inspiring.

  • But there used to be a real type of shot in at least American cinema that was

  • for lack of a better word, really robust.

  • Like, it didn't break down.

  • It worked, it got the job done.

  • It was always interesting to watch.

  • It didn't call attention to itself.

  • You know, you could rely on it.

  • Now, it's split.

  • You got one branch of filmmaking

  • that is trying to go faster, shorter, more chaotic.

  • And another that is almost willfully doing the opposite.

  • Some people are still in the middle.

  • Alfonso Cuarón comes to mind

  • as someone trying to mine the long take for dramatic purposes.

  • But even Alfonso isn't trying to be invisible.

  • Hell, even Spielberg sometimes wants you to notice.

  • This one from Minority Report

  • is practically a De Palma or Hitchcock shot.

  • This one from Duel is, I mean, it's almost like a slasher movie.

  • This one from Always,

  • which is a terrible movie,

  • is done in sync with a 747.

  • And this is just insane.

  • But otherwise, Spielberg plays it quiet.

  • Which is weird to say, because you know, Spielberg.

  • But compared to his peers,

  • this technique, which he has been doing this for 40 years at this point,

  • makes him stand out all the more.

  • Which car were you planning on?

  • Whichever one you are.

  • So I guess that's maybe the closest I can get to defining a Spielberg oner.

  • It uses any and all possible tricks to remain invisible.

  • So if you're a director

  • and you want to pull off a Spielberg oner,

  • there's only a few simple rules to follow.

  • First, move your actors.

  • Move 'em around.

  • Don't just have them stand there and talk

  • like they're in a 2014 blockbuster.

  • Don't mind him.

  • - English humor? - Scottish whiskey.

  • Second, follow that movement.

  • The camera doesn't have to follow on a leash,

  • it can swing around, it can move counter to them,

  • it can track laterally, whatever.

  • But watch the scene and place the camera accordingly.

  • Third, break down the shot

  • into multiple compositions and smaller angles.

  • You are essentially linking five or six different shots

  • into a single moving master.

  • So you can think in terms of

  • single, over-the-shoulder, insert, wide.

  • It all flows together.

  • Ah, Frank.

  • Oh, and if you can accomplish all this

  • without even moving the camera?

  • Even better.

  • All of you?

  • Fourth, do your vis FX or special FX,

  • anything you need to keep the "magic" alive,

  • do it in the wide shot.

  • Don't cheat and construct your elements

  • out of close-ups and cutaways,

  • put 'em in the wide shot and let the actors interact with them.

  • And don't fucking green screen shit that should be practical

  • The audience can tell

  • when an actor is reacting to something that's there

  • versus something that isn't.

  • Fifth, if you need to, shoot a cutaway.

  • All of the shots in this video are completely unbroken takes,

  • but Spielberg isn't stupid.

  • He often shoots an insert or a cutaway for a oner

  • even if he's sure they nailed it.

  • This gives him the ability to tighten in editing if he needs to,

  • or perhaps use the beginning of one take

  • and the end of another.

  • It also helps if he needs someone

  • to hit a particularly difficult mark,

  • like making a gun land in the right spot.

  • ...cautious fellow I am.

  • And last, keep it short.